07/18/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Cinnamon Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
3.    Little Sister Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
4.    Cream Cahills
5.    Sulphurs
6.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
7.    Little Green Stoneflies
8.    Slate Drakes
9. .  Streamers (Sculpin, Minnows)
10.  Inch Worms
11.  Grasshoppers
12.  Ants
13.  Beetles

Brook Trout Streams - Part 22
It's the time of year when the high elevation streams really become important, so for the next few
days I will be pointing out some high elevation brook trout streams (and some not so high), many of
which you may be familiar with and some you may not be familiar with.

Cataloochee Creek
Cataloochee Valley is the most remote section of the park you can get to in a vehicle.
Nearby Big Creek is probably less visited but much easier to get to than Cataloochee
Creek. That's one reason Cataloochee Creek was chosen for the first area to
re-introduce elk. It's one of our favorite sections of the park for several reasons.
Other than its striking beauty, remoteness and great fishing, one favorable reason is
the low number of anglers that fish it. It can get busy in places at certain times of the
year, but in general, most people traveling there do so for sightseeing purposes, not
to fish. We also like the fact there's all three species of trout, including brook trout of
course, existing in the upper area of Cataloochee Creek as well as the mouths of
tributary streams that are fairly easy to access. Of course, the backcounty of this
watershed has an abundance of brook trout.

A couple of years ago, I received an email about Cataloochee Creek from a person
who had worked with the park fishery managers shocking areas of Cataloochee
Creek. He stated the results of the survey showed fewer numbers of trout than was
normal for other streams in the park. I don't remember the numbers but all it did for
me was to remind me that the numbers of fish in a stream doesn't necessarily relate to
the numbers of fish one may catch. You may have a bad day on a trout stream with as
many trout as 5000 trout per mile and catch a huge number from another stream with
less than a 1000 trout per mile. We have fished most all of the major trout streams in
the nation (including 87 of to so called top 100 streams) and in general, pay little
attention to the population data with respect to how it may relate to what we can catch.
It reminds me of how far too many anglers relate their fishing expectations to the size
of aquatic insect hatches. Some anglers think it takes a large hatch to interest the
trout and ignore small, isolated hatches. This is a huge mistake and one that's far to
common.

We have fished Cataloochee Creek at least twenty-five times or more during the last
dozen years and I don't remember a single trip when we were disappointed in the
numbers or the size of the fish we caught. I'm not just going by memory. With the
exception of the times we are working on a project using a third person cameraman,
we only fish one at a time while the other one of us is takes pictures or shoots video.
Later, everything is logged as to time code and content, so we can actually look in our
logs and see what we caught or failed to catch.

Brook trout exist not only in the upper Cataloochee Creek from the point it begins
from the confluence of Palmer Creek and Rough Fork Creek downstream a good
distance, they exist in all the major tributaries including most of their smaller feeder
streams. This includes Palmer Creek and its tributaries - Pretty Hollow Creek and Lost
Bottoms Creek, one of the first streams to be restored with native Southern
Appalachian Brook Trout. It also includes Rough Fork and as low as from the point it
joins Palmer Creek, although brookies are not very plentiful at that point. Caldwell
Fork, which enters Cataloochee Creek at the campground, also has plenty of brook
trout, even in its lower section although again, they don't seem to be plentiful at that
point. Little Cataloochee Creek, which comes into the main stream a few miles
downstream of the campground, also has a good population of brook trout.

Some say these populations of brook trout in the Cataloochee Creek watershed (and
other watersheds) have changed during the past few years. Considering the variation
in stream level conditions, weather trends and the fact the overhead canopies of all
streams in the park have increased in size since the day the cutting of timber ceased,
it's pretty obvious as to why.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of the fishing opportunities available in the
Great Smoky Mountains National Park and anywhere else, for that matter. Although
there's not such a thing as "the best stream to fish", we never have second thoughts
about recommending Cataloochee Creek and/or its tributary streams as a top fly
fishing destination in the park. It's one of our favorite places to fish.

Copyright 2011 James Marsh